British Journal of Aesthetics 49 (2):109-128 (2009)

Although Gregory Currie is often presented as a strong defender of empathic simulation as part of spectator engagement, this paper questions the importance of empathy in Currie's philosophy of film. Currie's account of the imagination is too propositional, and his account of a more sensuous and experiential kind of imagining is found wanting. While giving a convincing account of impersonal imagining in relation to fiction film, Currie does not sufficiently explain what empathy is, and what relation it has to other forms of imagining. Simulation is primarily defined as impersonal, and perhaps more importantly, as conceptual and propositional in Currie's writings. This is perhaps most evident in his critique of personal imagining, where imagining seeing or imagining being becomes a self-reflexive form of imagining where the spectator also conceptualizes ‘I’ and ‘see’. This paper discusses the relation between personal imagining and empathy in Currie's account, and argues that he fails to show how empathy is of secondary importance for engagement in fiction film.
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DOI 10.1093/aesthj/ayp005
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